Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Roman Polanski

The Right Girl

Book cover: Polanski
Book cover: Polanski

On February 13, 1977, Polanski left the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, which served as a semi-permanent home for many of the Hollywood elite. It was the same place, author Christopher Sanford noted in his biography, Polanski, where Julia Roberts was filmed strutting through the lobby in Pretty Woman.

Polanski kept a penthouse suite. His neighbors were Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen.

He drove to Woodland Hills in the Valley and was introduced to the family. When he met Gailey, though, he was disappointed because he found her to be so unremarkable. She was certainly no Nastassia Kinski; she looked perhaps a bit like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. Pale with a tawny cast to her hair, she had a huskier voice than one would have expected for a girl so young.

He flourished the impressive photos of Kinski in Vogue, a fact that would later be played up by the prosecution:

"We have this man coming in, showing an elaborate, slick paper magazine — Paris Vogue — with beautiful photographs of beautiful girls and scenery and background... almost like a movie setting," said attorney Roger Gunson, of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.

Samantha Jane Gailey
Samantha Jane Gailey

No photo session occurred on that day, but the family was duly impressed. They agreed to schedule a photo shoot later; Polanski told her and her mother that their session would last no more than an hour.

He returned on February 20. After selecting some of the different outfits from the pile that Samantha and her mother had chosen, he and Samantha drove a mile away into the hills, where the Pacific Ocean could be seen in the distance. After shooting her in several different blouses, he then asked to her remove her top — telling her that her breasts would not be shown, just the top of her shoulders.

She nevertheless later testified that she was uncomfortable. "I wasn't sure if I was going to tell her or not," she said of disclosing the incident to her mother. "I was just going to say I didn't want to get any more pictures taken by Polanski again."

But she did not in fact protest, and Polanski would come back for a second photo shoot. He complained during the first shoot that the light was fading, crucial in photography, and asked for a second session.

He took her back to the house where her mother was waiting. After making loose arrangements, he left the next day for New York.

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